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Benchlands relocation of homeless commenced Monday

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV)- The city of Santa Cruz has started letting people living in the Benchlands know that they need to start packing up.

Currently, the first section of the tents has been torn down and is starting to get cleaned up.

People looked on as the first section of the Benchlands camp started to clear out. The evictions began on the side closest to the Water Street Bridge.

Before the evictions, the city reached out to people living in the Benchlands, according to Homelessness Response Manager Larry Imwalle, to let them know they have other options.

“We continued to, City Staff continued to, outreach to people in zone one to see if they were interested in taking up shelter space up at the City Overlook Program,” Imwalle said. “At the Armory Building.”

This cleanup process has not been hard on just the people living here but also on the people trying to help them find new homes and help them clear their properties.

I spoke to a City Outreach Member who said that one of his teammates was attacked by someone living here who was trying to help that person tear apart their home and find them a new place to live.

Police are on the scene to defuse any hostile issues, but everyone involved understands that emotions are pretty high right now.

According to Imwalle, “When we’re meeting with some folks who are having a difficult time with this move, we’re just trying to be respectful and professional so that we can go about our work and affect this closure.”

Imwalle and the City have a goal for the park once the evictions are completed, and the cleanup is done.

“That’s the intent here,” Imwalle said. “It was established as a community park, and we’re trying to restore it to its intended use.”

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46

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